November 16, 2005
Republican family values
ATLANTA (AP) – Ever since her 13-year-old niece wed a 14-year-old boy last year, Sharon Cline has sent lawmakers a slew of letters begging them to change a Georgia law that allows children of any age to marry – without parental consent – as long as the bride-to-be is pregnant.
“Some of the lawmakers just didn’t believe this could happen,” said Cline, who lives in Weston, Fla. “It was very frustrating.”
They’re believers now.
Lisa Lynnette Clark, 37, was charged last week in Gainesville with child molestation for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old friend of her teenage son. Just days before her arrest, she wed the boy under a Georgia law that allows pregnant couples to marry regardless of age and without consent.
So you’re a Republican lawmaker: what ya gonna do?
“I never knew it was in the code until this morning,” Jerry Keen, the state’s House Majority Leader, said Tuesday. “Our legislative counsel – the lawyers who draft the laws – even had to look it up.”
Second, do nothing:
Still, Keen and other leaders in the Republican-controlled Georgia Legislature stopped short of endorsing a change to the state’s marital requirements.
“It’s very difficult to govern by exception. You have to govern by rule,” Keen said.
Third, persecute gays instead:
As the only openly gay elected official in Georgia’s state government, [Democratic Rep. Karla] Drenner said the irony of the lax marriage standards for minors is not lost upon her – particularly a year after lawmakers passed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
“We’re protecting society from the perceived threat of homosexual marriage, which was already illegal,” she said. “But yet if you’re pregnant, you can get married – and it doesn’t matter if you’re 9 years old or 10 years old.”
Drenner plans to author a bill that would bar children aged under 16 from marrying—at least without parental consent. Which isn’t much of an improvement, frankly.
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